NATO AIRSTRIKES

April 10, 1999

BY GUY DINMORE (BELGRADE)

Voice of America

INTRO: THE FOLLOWING IS A TRANSCRIPTION OF THE Q&A CONDUCTED BY V-O-A EDITOR VICTOR BEATTIE IN WASHINGTON WITH “FINANCIAL TIMES” CORRESPONDENT GUY DINMORE IN BELGRADE AT 3:00 AM, EDT , 4/10.

THE SUBJECT OF THE Q&A IS THE MOST RECENT NATO AIRSTRIKES AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA WHICH TOOK PLACE FRIDAY NIGHT (4/9) AND EARLY SATURDAY MORNING (4/10) (YUGOSLAVIA TIME).

BEATTIE: GUY, WHAT CAN YOU TELL US OF THE MOST RECENT OVERNIGHT ATTACKS, I UNDERSTAND THAT IT DID NOT JUST INVOLVE NATO AIRPLANES BUT ALSO SHIP-FIRED CRUISE MISSILES.

DINMORE: WELL, IN BELGRADE WE HEARD SEVERAL PLANES OVERHEAD JUST BEFORE MIDNIGHT, THERE WAS ALOT OF ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE FROM THE WEST OF THE CITY, WE JUST SAW FLASHES IN THE SKY WHICH WAS QUITE CLOUDY, MAKING IT DIFFICULT FOR NATO. THERE WERE SEVERAL EXPLOSIONS TO THE SOUTH, WEST AND EAST OF BELGRADE WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN FROM THE JETS OR THE MISSILES. WE DON’T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THE TARGETS WERE. BUT IT APPEARS THAT CENTRAL BELGRADE ITSELF ESCAPED DAMAGE. ALSO IN THE NORTHERN TOWN OF NOVI SAD, THE MEDIA HAS BEEN REPORTING STRIKES THERE. BUT NONE OF THIS DETERRED PEOPLE IN BELGRADE. THERE WERE LARGE CROWDS ONCE AGAIN OUT ON THE BRIDGES USING THEMSELVES AS HUMAN SHIELDS TO DETER NATO ATTACK. THEY WERE ALSO OUTSIDE THE RADIO-TELEVISION STATION OF SERBIA IN CENTRAL BELGRADE AND ON BRIDGES ACROSS THE DANUBE IN NOVI SAD.

BEATTIE: YOU MENTIONED THAT THE WEATHER MAY HAVE BEEN A PROBLEM LAST NIGHT, IS IT STILL OVERCAST AND RAINY THERE TODAY?

DINMORE: YES, IN BELGRADE IT IS QUITE MISTY, VERY LOW CLOUDS, BIT OF RAIN , VERY GOOD NEWS FOR THE PEOPLE LIVING HERE. PEOPLE ARE WATCHING THE WEATHER FORCAST ON STATE TELEVISION QUITE CLOSELY THESE DAYS.

BEATTIE: I GUESS THE ALL CLEAR WAS GIVEN BY AIR RAID SIRENS ACROSS THE CITY SEVERAL HOURS AGO, ANY FURTHER ACTIVITY OR PEOPLE GOING ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS THIS WEEKEND?

DINMORE: YES, LIFE IS SETTLING INTO A NORMAL ROUTINE. OF COURSE THIS WEEKEND IS EASTER (ORTHODOX FAITH) , SO THERE IS A LOT OF PREPARATIONS WITH FAMILY VISITS, BIG DINNERS, PEOPLE WILL CERTAINLY BE GOING TO CHURCH IN LARGE NUMBERS TOMORROW. THIS IS A VERY SPECIAL WEEKEND AND THERE IS AN ADDITIONAL SENSE OF OUTRAGE THAT NATO IS BOMBING THEIR COUNTRY ON THIS MOST IMPROTANT RELIGIOUS DATE ON THEIR CALENDAR.

BEATTIE: THIS IS, AS YOU HAVE INDICATED, RATHER STRICTLY OBSERVED BY MANY SERBS, THIS RELIGIOUS HOLIDAY.

DINMORE: THATS RIGHT, YES IT IS. I WOULDN’T SAY THAT THIS IS COUNTRY WHERE HUGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE REGULARLY GO TO CHURCH BUT THE RELIGION IS THE UNDERPINNING OF SERBIAN IDENTITY, ITS WHERE THEIR “SERBNESS” COMES FROM IF YOU LIKE, ITS A VERY IMPORTANT OCCASION INDEED.

BEATTIE: IS THERE ANY INDICATION THAT THE CHRCH WILL USE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO PERHAPS MAKE A POLITICAL STATEMENT ABOUT THE NATO ATTACKS?

DINMORE: WELL THE PATRIARCH OF THE CHURCH MAY WELL APPEAR AND MAKE A STATEMENT, HE IS A VERY OLD MAN , VERY RESPECTED, RECENTLY HE WAS TOURING THE BALKANS JUST BEFORE THESE AIR STRIKES BEGAN IN AN ATTEMPT TO BRING ABOUT SOME PEACE BETWEEN THE FORMER REPUBLICS OF YUGOSLAVIA. HE HAS MADE STATEMENTS CONDEMNING NATO FOR WHAT IS HAPPENING. BUT ALSO INTERESTINGLY, THEY HAVE MADE IT CLEAR THAT THE CHURCH WANTS TO PROMOTE PEACE BETWEEN PEOPLE OF ALL ETHNIC BACKGROUNDS AND RELIGIONS WITHIN YUGOSLAVIA. SO THERE NOT JUST AN ANTI-NATO PROPAGANDA WEAPON BY ANY MEANS.

BEATTIE: WE HAVE HAD REPORTS THAT SOME REPORTERS HAVE BEEN HARASSED , HAVE YOU NOTICED AMONG YOUR FELLOW JOURNALISTS A RELATIVE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT?

DINMORE: NO , I WOULDN’T SAY WE HAVE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT. THE GROUND RULES APPLYING TO JOURNALISTS, IMPOSED BY THE ARMY, ARE NOT TOTALLY CLEAR. WHAT IT BOILS DOWN TO, IS IF WE WANT TO MOVE AROUND WITHOUT FEAR OF BEING ARRESTED OR BEING DEPORTED , WE HAVE TO GET PERMISSION FROM THE ARMY, WHEREVER WE WANT TO GO OUTSIDE BELGRADE. AND QUITE OFTEN THAT PERMISSION IS FORTHCOMING BUT SOMETIMES IT ISN’T. SO, WE ARE RESTRICTED IN OUR MOVEMENTS , BUT WE ARE NOT CENSORED IN WHAT WE WRITE, BUT TELEVISION CREWS ARE HAVING THEIR FOOTAGE CENSORED BEFORE IT IS BROADCAST.

BEATTIE: ARE YOU JOURNALISTS ALLOWED TO GO INTO KOSOVO AT ALL?

DINMORE: AH, NOT REALLY. THERE WAS ONE BUSLOAD OF JOURNALISTS TAKEN DOWN THREE DAYS AGO TO SEE THE DAMAGE CAUSED BY NATO AIRSTRIKES ON THE CENTER OF PRISTINA. BUT OTHER JORNALISTS WHO WERE NOT ON THAT BUS AND ASKED TO GO, WERE REFUSED PERMISSION TO GO DOWN SINCE. GENERALLY THE REPLY IS THAT IT IS TOO DANGEROUS FOR US TO GO.

BEATTIE: THAT WILL ABOUT DO IT……WE WILL LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR FILING LATER TODAY. THANK YOU.
NEB/VB/PLM
10-Apr-99 6:42 AM EDT (1042 UTC)
NNNN
Source: Voice of America

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: